Childhood Playmate | 童年玩伴

By , and | 1 October 2020

Translated by Gu Yiwei and Cassandra Atherton

Death, is another child, with a thin face
Occasionally he comes to play with me, knocks three times,
moderate and regular, forming a habit
Like the scar on his forehead that is uncovered
when he takes off his hat—
It’s a strange mark burnt by Mars, he says
He doesn’t blame his father who smoked every day in clouds
and swam in alcohol, who was old, tied to the post
nor his mother who sat and sighed
at her dresser. His home was in the depths of the flax field across the lake
Unexpectedly, I have never really been there to have a look
(I have headed towards there several times, but returned
Before arriving) or to see the antique furnishings
he described, kept in their proper positions
Sometimes when I am not yet up, he lies prone in the sleeping bag
looking at me; sometimes when I happen to be
drinking milk in the kitchen
there are feathers floating in from the window, something to speak of
He always collects quaint baubles such as
a silent bird, a doddery horse which cannot be ridden,
Some canned fish that aren’t fresh, he probably loved these things
covered in moss in the shade, not heliophilous,
he did not expect them to grow into feral shapes
Before leaving, mum always warned, ‘You have to be home before the sun sets.’
Then we rushed across the front hall
Across some sporadic puddles, and arrived at
The reeds where discarded barges were moored, so
that was how one puddle joined another
You took off your hat to show me your scar
You even took a cat out of your arms, saying it was magic
Out of admiration, and of self-esteem, I said
This is nothing surprising, once I even held a
Colourful tiger in my arms, and let it go
with my hands. Just now a wild francolin flies over head
and you go chasing the luminous curve
As if you love falling, you run like
the rising tide, puddles gradually swallowing up the reed field
It disappears, like an innocent beach gobbled up by the waves
Coming back empty-handed, you spread out your hands, shadowed with sorrow,
‘People always talk about going somewhere far away to dance, but they
Never know where to go, or sometimes go too far,
Forgetting to come back home.’ At times like this, it means goodbye
I look at the puddles, the lake that has formed
The flaming clouds over it, and his home
He said it was only another mark, the same as the one
On his forehead. Then I stepped and splashed about here and there
Strolled back home alone, while my young solitary playmate
Always ran in the opposite direction.

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